Below is the second and final part of an interview with WSO See Part 1 Here.
3) Could you describe a typical day on the job?
There isn't really a typical day on the job, but I'll take you through my Wednesday:
8:15-8:45 - Get settled, read some news, have a coffee, catch up on Dealbreaker...basically nothing productive
8:45-9:30 - Made some updates to a model we are providing to our buy side client on one of their targets.
9:30-11:45 - Work on a CIM for a sell side client
11:45-12:00 - Pick up lunch with the other analysts
12:00-1:30 - Update the financials in a different CIM
1:30-3:00 - Make marketing calls for a client we just took to market. I get allocated the crappiest targets and the Director and VP on the deal take the rest. Mostly get voicemails, send out follow up emails and update the CRM.
3:00-4:00 - Phone interviews for SA program
4:00-6:00 - More CIM writing
6:00-7:00 - Listen in on a conference call between a client and a potential buyer going over unaudited year end financials
7:00-8:00 - Type up notes from call and create an info request list for our client
8 pm - VP tells me to go home because I'm pretty sick
Generally leave anywhere from 8pm to midnight. Weekends are fairly common and I've had one all nighter in my two months here. Face time isn't overly important and the senior bankers encourage people to have as much of a life as possible outside the office.
4) Do you enjoy your job? What are the best and worst parts about it?
I do genuinely enjoy my job. I'm learning a ton, I find the deal process pretty exciting and I'm friendly with my coworkers. There are parts of it that certainly suck (e.g. getting stuck with a data entry assignment or binding pitch books), but the majority of my work seems to require a modicum of thought.
5) If you could change something from your time at college and while working, what would it be?
I could have made things a lot easier on myself by actually giving a shit about life after college while I was still in college. Learning what investment banking was and what the recruiting process would entail during my sophomore year probably wouldn't have taken much effort. I like to think I'm at least of average intelligence and I don't suck at interviewing - I probably could have ended up at a fairly reputable bank coming out of school if I really put my mind to it (although, who the fuck knows?). If that was the case I would probably be talking about how I transitioned from IB to PE//etc. right now.
With all of that said, I probably wouldn't have changed a thing. I treated college like a once in a lifetime, four year vacation, and don't regret it at all. I met an amazing girl that I have been with for 3 years, made some great friends and racked up a ton of good memories.
6) What do you think the most important quality is in a prospective banker?
See footnote 2: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/01/17/16959889...
I really can't put it better than that. Analyst skills don't really translate into "banker" skills, and a select few are blessed with both skillsets. Those are the guys (and girls) that rise to the top of the ranks.
7) What advice would you give to someone looking to get into?
This doesn't really answer your question, but a few random observations I have picked up from screening resumes and conducting tons of first round interviews:
1. If English is your second language make sure you have a flawless cover letter. Basically the only time I'll look through a cover letter is if I have concerns about your ability to write.
2. Don't cold email all of the analysts at once (or the entire firm, which happened the other day). Pick one analyst and shoot them a personalized note.
3. If it's one day before the deadline for resume submissions at your school, don't send me an email saying "I was thinking of applying to your firm and was hoping to speak with you about your experience there." It's too late for that. If you want to send your resume directly to me with a personalized introduction, that's fine, but you aren't getting any networking in the day before first rounds kick off.
4. If you are a sophomore or don't have a background in finance or accounting you need to confront that head on in the interview. I want to see some initiative that you have done your homework on the firm, what investment banking is/entails and what is expected of an analyst. If you can convince me that your hard-on for IB is genuine and you would be a great person to work with, I won't even care if you can't tell me that A=L+SE. All that other shit can be learned.
5. This happens a lot in phone interviews when someone clearly has notes in front of them, but don't sound like a robot. The flow of the conversation is more important in an interview than how precisely polished your answers are. A good way to do this is to ask some questions throughout the interview, as long as the answers don't require a ton of effort or disrupt the flow of questions.
In terms of breaking in FT, I'm probably not the best guy to ask as I took a pretty unconventional route. For me, networking didn't turn out to be as important as it is for some people. Ironically, I think I got a lot better at networking after I had already found a job. Thehelped me to break in, but I certainly don't think that will be the case for everyone.
If I could boil it all down to one piece of advice to break in, I guess it would be to go to Harvard.
Just kidding, I think the most important thing is to come across as someone that would be enjoyable to work with.
8) What are your plans for the future?
My plans are pretty uncertain at this point. I just started as a second year analyst but will be 3 years out of school in June and have already switched jobs twice. My end goal was always middle market PE or a small cap equity fund, and I think I'll take a stab at recruiting for pre-MBA positions next fall. The bank I'm at is big on direct promotes so I'm not going to freak if I don't land a buyside gig next cycle. Who knows, maybe I'll be a lifetime banker? An MBA is probably in the cards and I plan on taking thebefore the summer. I don't usually like to plan more than 6 months in advance.
[Note by Asatar] - I want to say a big thank you to duff for taking the time to give such detailed and thoughtful answers. I know I certainly enjoyed reading them and I hope you all did too